I have about 100 albums by some 66 artists from iTunes, not counting various artist compilations. Many of them are just 1 or 2 tracks off an album, but a good deal of these are complete album downloads.
My Genre classifications are braindead on iTunes. Some failed 20-something computer programmer was probably asked by their boss at Apple to do the classifications, as though any talentless hack could do it. It didn’t occur to the execs that you have to know a fair bit about the music you categorize, and not over-categorize, which, as iTunes demonstrates, only makes the problem worse. And I’ve wondered: what exactly is the “bounce house” genre?
Here are some classifications of recordings that have clearly not been
Enya, apparenlty, is “Pop” music. There is not much separating her Celtic influenced brand of electronica from acts like Vangelis or other progressive acts. It is just that her music sells. In iTunes, “Pop” doesn’t seem so much as a genre as an economic category.
“The Chrysler” is apparently “Rock”. There they are in my collection alongside Hendrix, Supertramp, CSN, Rolling Stones, U2, and so on. All of the latter groups could well be classed under “Classic Rock”, as it is now known, but here they are as well. What is Chumbawumba doing under “Rock”?
Judy Collins, who is best known as a top-rated singer of other people’s music, is here under “Singer-Songwriter”, with her album of nothing but Leonard Cohen tunes. Clearly, Collins is more singer than songwriter. That is not a slight on Collins – she is amazing and deserves to be heard by a wide audience.
Michael Pagliaro “Rainshowers” classed as “American Traditional Rock”. Problem is, Pagliaro hails from Montreal in Canada. Why are they splitting “Rock” into these fine classifications anyway? They do have “Rock”.
The “Alternative” genre: Edwyn Collins, The Deceberists, … outside of iTunes, “Alternative” is not really “Alternative”. It is just another form of mainstream Rock which makes the average consumer feel like they are listening to something edgy. Collins doesn’t sound too different from Bowie. Bowie was edgy (take note of the past tense); and there is not much special about The Decemberists, except that they are not as well known as other Top-40 acts back in 2015, but still highly talented. Why are acts like these not as well-known? Ask the record execs. And apparently, acts such as The Chrysler and Chumbawumba are not alternative?
“Dance”: A-Trak & Wongo, Kidnap, and Boyz Noize are all electronic. They are hypnotic tunes and would not be considered recognizable by any general audience. More correct genres are House, and Techno. Kidnap have other recordings listed under “House”, such as their single “Cold Water”. The music is danceable in the sense of being at a rave in your early 20s and not knowing what you are dancing to.
Maria Bamford is a charmingly strange standup comedian who has different albums classed separately under “Comedy” and “Standup Comedy”. Her comedy is all standup comedy in all of the albums I have of her, but being classed under these two categories is unhelpful.
I found one of the genres that seem to have no problems is “New Age”, but when sorted my albums by Artist, apparently “New Age” is an artist!
The Hobbit: The Cardinal Cut, A YouTube video edited by a person named Cardinal West, has boiled down the eight or so hours of The Hobbit down to about half that purely by editing the original down from the NewLine Cinema version, and posted an article about it, and offered a way to download your own MP4 copy for free, on his website. You can get all this info by entering “The Hobbit – The Cardinal Cut” into the YouTube search box.
He requests emphatically that the only people who should be downloading the edited movie are people who already purchased a copy of the trilogy, either digitally or through various video disks. For the record, I have had my blu-ray copy of the extended editions of all three parts for some years, and thus downloaded and viewed the Cardinal version of the movie in full.
Cardinal is The Hobbit without the bullshit. Gone are the distractions that add nothing to the story, such as the love triangle between Tauriel, Legolas, and the dwarf Kili. It didn’t exist in the book, and adds not one iota to the plot. The Battle of the Five Armies (the battle in The Hobbit, not the third part in the movie sequel), which took barely 5 pages in the original book, which has thus been variously nicknamed “Battle of the 5 Pages” or “Battle of the 5 Studios” (Warner, MGM, New Line Cinema, The Weinstein Company (yes, that Weinstein), and the Saul Zaentz Company) took up over 90 minutes in the third part of the trilogy. Natch, most of that was cut out as excessive in the Cardinal cut.
As for Cardinal, what remained was actually a pretty good and entertaining movie, with a story line that was much easier to follow. The parts of the film that needed gravitas were undiluted by distracting side plots that weren’t part of the original book, and it aided the overall quality of the film. I didn’t mind the occasional choppiness of the editing, since it all seemed engineered to draw my attention more to the story.
There are other “fan edits” in existence, each with their own arrangements for downloading. Chris Hartwell did one in 2020, and in the video I saw which discussed his rationale for editing down The Hobbit, he was not clear on how a fan could obtain a copy of his edited version. Hartwell claims that he was achieving more of a balance between the storyline of the original book and its adaptation to a movie, taking advantage of the power of film to embellish and add other dimensions to what was text. Hartwell appears to be making his money through Patreon crowdfunding. Cardinal is also funded through Patreon.
Fringe Parties are obscure, and many have been around for a very long time. Elections Canada has listed 22 of them running in the last election. Here is a list of 12 of them that were on ballots somewhere in Canada yesterday, with short comments.
The “Rhinos” first ran as a joke in the ’60s. One of their promises currently is to make illiteracy Canada’s third official language, suggesting little has changed. It is a great way to spoil your ballot, and still say to people that you voted. Not on this list is a party called the “Absolutely Absurd Party”, a party who wrote into their platform (yes they had one), a motion to replace the Canadian Department of Defense with “a team of crack Rock-Paper-Scissors commandos.” The Absolutely Absurd party de-registered themselves for this election. The Rhinos did not, and ran 28 candidates nationwide yesterday in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.
The Communist Party has been around for a very long time. Currently, their website appears to give the impression that they have defined themselves in terms of their hatred of crappy right-wing policies. It is not clear as to whether they have any kind of platform, but they ran 28 candidates across all provinces except Newfoundland and PEI. Two candidates were elected as Members of Parliament back in 1943. They were banned for awhile and re-surfaced in the 1950s.
What is the difference between the Communists and the Marxist-Leninists? Who knows? Both parties have been around for several generations, and the question reigns perennial. But their website indicates that they have run more than 25 candidates over several provinces this election. They show their expertise with social criticism and make some good points, but it falls far short of a platform.
We have registered parties ranging from the far left to the far right. The Libertarians have been around for some decades, and their definition of “libertarian” is to liberate capital and business with laissez-faire economic policies. So, this is considered far right. They ran 24 candidates.
Sounds good, nice website, but despite the fact there are registered with Elections Canada, their website triggered virus detection on my PC, and messed up my Firefox browser. Thus, it was not clear as to whether they ran any candidates, or what their platform is. The information provided by Elections Canada suggests that nearly all of their activity appears to be confined to the Greater Toronto Area.
Canada’s Fourth Front
You must admit, the name of the party sounds pretty dramatic, but as an anticlimax to this drama, the website is down. Would have been nice to write them up here, but alas, no-can-do. They are running a grand total of 7 candidates. Elections Canada has them as based in Toronto.
Veteran’s Coalition Party
The Nova Scotia and Alberta-based Veteran’s Coalition Party are a party promoting the abstract values of “truth, duty and honor”. However, I have trouble seeing that as a platform. They ran 25 candidates anyway.
Christian Heritage Party
A party headquartered in Ottawa which CBC reports is running 15 candidates and is focused on social conservatism. They promote a Christian world view, which means they will fight a war against anything they see as contradicting it. Examples are defunding the CBC, and abolishing pro-choice.
This is, as the name suggests, a single-issue party, based in Montreal, aimed at greater access to marijuana. The fact that they see this as the single defining issue in the age of covid and global warming may not ring so true after they come down. They are running 4 candidates.
Animal Protection Party
Another single-issue party, this time aimed at protecting animals. I have said in another article, writing about a similar-themed party that we indeed live in an age where animal rights seems to be more of an animating issue than human rights these days. But I also stated in that article that Mother Nature does not run a democracy, and that we need animals and plants more than they need us. This Toronto-based party was running 39 candidates in yesterday’s election.
Nothing spells Western alientation like a Bloc-style political party for Western Canada. The Alberta-based Mavericks are running 25 or so candidates, just in BC, Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
A Montreal-based party that pre-dates Canada’s existence. It was started in Lower Canada from an assembly of Francophones and Irish Anglophones, both of whom distrusted the British. They are currently a right-wing party who stand for Quebec nationalism and sovereignty. The latest instance of this party was re-started by Donald Proulx in 2019. They are running two candidates, according to their French-only website.
Jordan Peterson is best known as a conservative-leaning psychologist who teaches at the University of Toronto, and also is a practising counsellor.
Dr. Jordan Peterson has often been pictured hanging out with students who are part of the far right, and has seemed to have gained an attachment to Pepe the Frog, and in the origins of the symbolism of the frog mascot. He has helped the far right gain dignity with its association with Pepe, by associating it with frogs in Egyptian mythology, and so on. Peterson is a big fan of Carl Jung, and so he shares Jung’s fascination for archetypes and how they theoretically play a role in our psyches. However, I am not sure that Jung had in mind a badly-drawn cartoon frog as an example.
Peterson’s hobknobbing with the far right makes him an easy target for others to discredit. This is unfortunate, since the book itself is compelling. Peterson tries to present himself as an intellectual force to be reckoned with. I remember reading the late Thomas Szasz, another dissident in the helping professions and another powerful intellectual who wrote the book Ideology and Insanity some decades ago, whose fatal flaw was rooted in the author’s association with the Church of Scientology. I can’t help but seeing parallels here. I have no general explanation for it.
Neither book is a waste of your money. Ideology and 12 Rules For Life are both compelling reading and were hard for me to put down. Both books will change you in some way. Ideology was considered a game-changer for the practice of psychiatry back in the 1970s. It is largely the reason psychiatry has moved from being mostly a “talking cure” to being more biologically-based and science-based. But also in both cases, you can only trust their intellectual prowess so far. For this article, we will focus on Peterson’s 12 Rules.
Peterson’s account of the genesis of his book appear to be from a much briefer and skeletal version of his 12 rules, contributed to an onlike wiki called Quora. His rules became popular, so he fleshed out his ideas for his book.
The most compelling reading of all have to do with those topics that are central to his profession. He discusses child-rearing in ways that are so down-to-earth and with such conviction that it is difficult to argue with his ideas. He does the same for his discussion of marriage, and of of the complex needs and tendencies of those seeking counselling. He seems like a Rock of Gibraltar here. Utterly clear and well-written. The book is hard to put down at this point.
For some of his rules, he deviates into discussions of the Bible. He takes on the same authoritative tone of various Biblical stories, but in my reading of it (being a churchgoer), they are clearly his views, not views sanctioned by general scholarship, or by the Church. His Biblical interpretations and exegeses are taken to be his own, and supportive of his rules. In his circle of intellectualism, his grasp of the Bible extends just outside the center of his intellect. The Bible is just one of his tools used in support of the rules. Other writings used this way are the writings of philosophers such as Nietzsche. His account of Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor in the book The Brothers Karamazov struck me as utterly succinct and clear. So much so, that I find it hard to believe that anyone could be that clear about that chapter in the book. In fact, it drove me to open my copy of Karamzov to check out this chapter that would be familiar to many first-year Arts majors, and read it again (this would be my third time reading it since university). Peterson doesn’t do a bad job, and his knowledge of church history surrounding this work is, well, plausible. But one senses that the association between Dostoyevsky and his rules are a little too neat and tidy.
He also cites dissident political writers such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a Soviet citizen who suffered the worst of the Gulags and lived to write three hefty books on the experience. This is where things go a little off the rails. While I have long ago given away my copy of the 3-volume Gulag Archipelago, Peterson has used this as an excuse to indulge in the Western intellecutal laziness of conflating communism with a totalitarian dictatorship, the latter of which was the case for the former Soviet Union, which was never close to being a Marxist utopia (indeed, Stalin banned the reading of Karl Marx). This is where Peterson deviates the most from his rules, and where his pronouncements on the evils of Stalinism deviated the most from any semblance the book’s original themes.
It is also where Peterson would find himself the most at odds with scholars such as MIT’s Dr. Richard Wolff, who actually make their living specializing in studying the history and theory of Marxism. This is where Peterson is the most out of his intellectual depth, showing his passive devotion to standard cold war tropes. The only difference these days is, that most socialist voices in our culture have been silenced in recent decades, reducing this to a mostly one-sided debate. This is why in real life, Dr. Peterson can rest on his laurels by challenging “anyone” to a debate about socialism, since he is confident of the success capitalist culture has had in silencing alternative voices, so that no one of any rhetorical skill will take him on. For the record, Dr. Wolff has accepted his challenge, which Peterson has never answered to.
Conflating communism with totalitarianism is one thing. Conflating capitalism with freedom is another. Freedom doesn’t come from Capital, it comes from a Bill of Rights, and from laws that protect us. Thus, the tropes of Communism=Totalitarianism and Capitalism=Freedom get aired out here, and it is hard to take since one of his rules tells us to avoid ideology. He fails to see that Capitalism is an ideology just like Communism. He seems hypocritical if he is in jingoistic support of Capitalism while making “avoid ideology” one of his rules. We as a society are so awash in pro-capitalist tropes, that the world doesn’t really need yet another mindless screed against communism, which adds nothing new to the mostly one-sided “debate” about it that exists in our culture.
I would like to state that I am against ideologies also. In politics as in real life, ideologies tend to take a brilliant idea and proceed to completely eviscerate it of all life and meaning. The problem mostly is in the need to enforce ideology. If the ideology was “love”, then we have to love, “or else”. There. I just made love into ideology and ruined it, just like that. Not hard to do. I wouldn’t want to live in that world any more than if the ideology was about something more conventional, like economic systems.
Peterson could have made his point much clearer had he chosen a more neutral ideology. Young adults go through a period of their maturation where they espose many ideologies, and most of these adults are not ideological in a political way. The minute you get it into your head that “All X are Y” or “All X should be Y”, or “All X should do Y”, you are raising an idea or a collection of opinions you once had to a general ideology. Young adults need to be aware that the world is infinitely more complicated than their ideologies and hard rules, and yes, ideology should be the least important concept in forming a world view. And this, dare I say it, includes the ideology of capitalism.
Peterson’s book on 12 Rules is a good read, so long as you don’t take his views too far beyond his skill in understanding psychology, and take his political views with a grain of salt.
Mark Manson, a dating advice and travel blogger, wrote a book in 2016 entitled, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. The book reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list in early 2017. It remained on the bestseller list for more than 4 years. I just checked the list for the “Advice and How-to” category, and it is still at #4. It is no longer charting as a mass-market or nonfiction book, if it ever had. His latest book is a biography of actor Will Smith, entitled Will.
As suggested in the title, it is full of expletives and the f-word. It is also full of stark bromides that are the antitdote to today’s illusion that everyone is a self-actualized person. The life lesson to be delivered in this book is that, part of the problem with success, is that it only is achievable when we no longer aim for it. Once we abandon questions like “am I happy?”, we are far closer to achieving happiness.
In its kind of casual, punchy style, there were problems I had in the theoretical consistency with the book. It turns questions on how to set happiness as a goal into questions of “how much of a certain kind of drudgery will I be willing to endure in order to say that I still feel contented?” The question is asked this way, because, to become good at anything, requires a certain kind of drudgery, whether it is practicing an instrument or to practice writing to become good at one or both of them. And one person’s “drudgery” is another person’s “fun”. You need to figure out which you find to be the most fun. And where some of us may excel in a small number of areas, we don’t excel in all areas over the course of our lives, generally.
I like this thinking, but then he rails against “positive thinking” movements without reminding the reader that in order to put up with the drudgery in pursuit of a goal, one has to remain optimistic and positive. You also need to be surrounded by supportive and caring people. None of this is mentioned. He seems to write as if the pursuit of life’s goals were entirely solitary. That is normally a recipe for failure. What I think he is really against is the most recent trend in trying to tell our children that they are all champions, and handing out trophies to everyone, and so on, leading the kids to feel entitled as adults. That is valid, but he treats it as though it was the only application of positive thinking in existence. Having a shadow in a headlock, he thinks he has won the argument. But the obvious truth is that without positive thinking, you can’t get psyched up, and you can’t become motivated, and your tolerance for the drudgery he speaks of will quickly evaporate.
The book really states its case in the first 2-3 chapters, then it delves into biography, autobiography, and anecdotes. The anecdotes were interesting, but I felt that they caused me to lose focus on the main messages of the book, and quite frankly, it didn’t seem to be worthwhile reading at all, so I skipped past all of it to the last chapter. I think it was in the spirit of the book, and the author would have approved. He has my money, so I am sure he doesn’t give a f*ck. If you would like to hear from a blogger who has actually bothered to read all of it (with the emotional scars to prove it), you can click here.
When Manson coins the phrase “not giving a fuck”, he really means that we should pick and choose what we care about, and not get concerned over side issues that only end up being distracting. But those little things can be big, also. Negative things can happen to us that are not our fault, and he acknowledges that we are still responsible for our actions and decisions that need to be done or made as a consequence.
While he lacks depth in his writing, his book is still useful as a compendium of tips and tricks for a more rewarding life. Don’t look for an organized system on how to live here. His ideas are never fleshed out enough for that. Maybe he just didn’t give a f*ck.
When a far right website called The Daily Stormer (named after Der Stürmer, said to be Adolf Hitler’s favourite magazine) gained publicity by offending readers, and before they were forced into obscurity after GoDaddy and Google, and even Russian web providers refused to register their domain, I gained access to their style guide (since it, along with a link, came up briefly in the mainstream news). I had no intention of writing for these people, but what I found in that document was a frank account of their thinking behind their practice of knowingly publishing racist and misogynist material.
To think this is OK, for one thing, the writer should be OK with the fact that they are writing for a group of unapologetic neo-Nazi white supremacists. The upshot is that they are quite honest about the fact that you (the first-time reader) won’t necessarily give them a positive reaction. What they are after is that while they made you angry, your subconscious accepts that information uncritically, according to The Daily Stormer understanding of human psychology. So, with enough unrelenting repetition of the same tropes, your mind will some day accept it. The Nazis understood the art of propaganda quite well, and it worked out quite successfully for their regime back in the 1930s. Anglin’s blog doesn’t seem all that different, nor is their effect any less calculated. As writer Luke O’Brien from The Atlantic wrote in the December 2017 issue, the site contained “non-ironic Nazism masquerading as ironic Nazism”, referring to their tendency to appear to be joking about committing hate crimes on individuals, except that they were not joking. The appearance of joking, according to The Daily Stormer style manual, was intended to hook the new reader into reading more from their website.
The content manager of the site was a young man named Andrew Anglin (who by now would be 36 years old). Not much was known about him after 2017. Described in most reliable accounts as growing up as a troubled and confused teenager, he developed his world view by travelling to the Philippines and various countries in Europe. He was always very much a part of the right-wing online world, honing his opinions on 4Chan, and setting up a series of blogs over the years on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from conspiracy theories to survivalism, where he fancied himself as akin to Commander Kurtz in the movie Apocalypse Now: living alone in the Philippine rainforest and far from villages, but having nearly infinite power over the villagers. It was an obsessive romanticism which forced him to say that life in a South Asian jungle wasn’t for him, blaming his difficulties on the villagers.
It appeared for a while, after Anglin was denied his registry of TheDaily Stormer that he disappeared into obscurity. And it was pretty effective obscurity too: many people including police and the media, were unable to locate him, though it was widely belived that he was somewhere in the American midwest at the time.
During the time he was active, it was likely that his screeds were being copied and spread by Russian hackers to Facebook and Twitter and other social media. It did not seem likely that he received any attribution for his articles, since there didn’t seem to be a big increase in traffic to his site caused by this. The Russian Government must have known that an American living in Russia had registered a website dealing in spreading pro-Nazi hate while lionizing Tump and Putin. However, it is not clear that he benefitted financially or drew hits to his site in any discernable number, and after he had his application to register his site rejected by the Russian government (and nearly everyone else), he did not seem to wind up any richer for his efforts. He was just used as a cog in the Russian disinformation apparatus, then the minute American media shone a light on him, he was thrown away like a broken toy.
A look at the Internet as of this writing shows that The Daily Stormer is back up, with nearly all the articles bylined by Anglin, with the site registered with the Russian registrar r01.su, under an SU top level domain (TLD) (meaning the country code appearing at the end of his server URL is actually the Soviet Union, instead of Russia, which would have been RU). It is likely he is still living in the United States, since there doesn’t appear to be a requirement that he needs to have business dealings or residency in Russia to have a Russian TLD.
An article in the New York Times discussed about the move in Washington State to offer free Covid vaccine injections from various marijuana dispensaries in a so-called “Joints for jabs” program. Along with that, they would offer free joints, but stopped short of offering “edibles”. The Times article is not clear on this last part — they probably mean edible cannabis-infused products. They could have also meant Doritos or pizza, the standard go-to foods when a stoner gets the munchies. Not to be confused with cannabis-infused pizza, which would make things worse.
Today, I read an article in the New York Times, where a teenager has a crisis over what to include in her wardrobe. Obviously a person of some privelege, many words and electrons were filled over what to do about this young girl’s fashion crisis.
The above picture was the picture shown with this article entitled “I Want to Invest In My Wardrobe! Help!” by Vanessa Friedman in the Times from May 28, a publicity photo from Gossip Girl, which sets the tone for the kind of “fashion crisis” under discussion. I have never seen the series, but from the photo, the girls – they are supposed to be high school age – seem to dress as if the parents never existed. It doesn’t appear that they do. The girls show lots of bare skin and high heels, as if they were at a singles’ bar and hard-up. The guys dress to impress as well, but both sexes seem to convey the impression that appearance counts for more than character in their families. The caption below the photo read “High School Fashion”. Nope. Not in any high school I ever worked at.
Adolescents are constantly focused on their appearance by nature, and good parents find it a constant battle to get them to develop social skills such as empathy and integrity, since they run counter to the egotism, pettiness and cruelty that adolescents can be capable of if unchecked. Did Ms. Friedman tell the young girl that in addition to clothes making an impression, that you also have to work on your character as well? No. She talked about clothes. Clothes, over the human life cycle. Clothes, as if the young daughter’s budget were limiteless. Clothes, without any regard for the 90 per cent of readers who will find none of the advice actionable at any age, but were seduced into reading it by a photographic depiction of high-class jailbait. Clothes, to remind the rest of us ordinary folk that the barrier to entry of “making an impression” is not for the hoi polloi.
“Ideology is a specious way of relating to the world. It offers human beings the illusion of an identity, of dignity, and of morality, while making it easier for them to part with them.” — Vaclav Havel (1978) The Power of the Powerless. Saimizdat.
If I was Vaclav Havel’s Green Grocer, what sign would I hang on my shop, as the utopia of wokeness comes to power? Maybe some woke-sounding thing like “Love comes in all colours”, with perhaps the pride colours as part of the sign.
Similarly to Marx’s call to arms of yesteryear, a shopper may gloss over the slogan to see what I have on sale; or if they bother to notice, think that the message is heartwarming, something that all folks can agree with. On its own merit, “Love comes in all colours” doesn’t offend, and brings out the warm fuzzies. But cheifly, Green Grocer remains a person to do business with if the items on offer are appealing, and the price is right. The slogan is really not so much of a warm, fuzzy statement of the Green Grocer’s view of matters of gender and sexual orientation so much as a passive acceptance of those elites that are in power.
While the language of wokeness, a genuine language since its words suck the life and meaning out of every word it utters, purports to “celebrate” oppressed groups of all descriptions, its main proponents come from the most elite of prep schools, and educated at Ivy League universities. They work in high positions of the largest organizations and businesses. You might have noticed that the message of wokeness come from the top down.
The use of “Celebrate” is used in a way that deprives it of all life and meaning. Rather than a spontaneous show of our elation, “celebrate” is more of a command. Claims that I “celebrate” our diversity is a token of my social acceptance, and does not mean that I plan a party and send out invites.
It is worth “celebrating” when oppressed people make demands. But in this case, the demands are instead coming from the top down. Large organizations are the ones telling us to “acknowledge” the contributions of minories; to “celebrate” diversity. If taken on their face value, the words are not so much the problem. What poses a difficulty is who is calling the shots. Speaking truth to power is quite different from those in power telling us what to think and do, no matter how much they dress themselves in humanistic-sounding jargon.
Like most directives from on high, this “celebration” of our differences and cultures does not take on the open forum of a discussion. It is more like a lecture by those of purportedly superior knowledge to the rest of us purported know-nothings. The jargon used has the calculated effect of requiring a high barrier of intellectual entry for most people, thereby discouraging discussion. In that regard, it is no different from the attempt conservatives take to exact loyalty and conformity to their own groups’ way of thinking. It is telling that “antifa” has become the new “communism” in terms of politically taboo groups of people. Anti-fascism is the only true antidote to both of these tendencies, since both are fascist in nature; and it is the one tendency that strikes terror in both of these elite groups.
Silk Road is a fairly new movie released back in February to overall lukewarm reviews.
It tries to tell the story of a fellow named Ross Ulbricht, who was the mastermind behind the darknet site Silk Road. Silk Road was a website that dealt with selling drugs, and was a story that had potential. But in the end the film was pretty boring.
The principal medium in this movie is the computer, in the sense that the subject of the story, Silk Road, was a website which exchaged illegal drugs for bitcoin, that could only be accessed with a Tor browser. So it is not an action movie by any stretch. Lots of focusing on the website, and the fact that it specialized in selling illegal drugs with bitcoin. Also, much was made of Ulbricht’s ideological musings, that he fancied himself to be the world’s saviour. This is all fine. The internet and the computer field is full of people professing to be people’s saviours, to varying degrees of legitimacy, ranging from Bill Gates, to Richard Stallman.
The medium of film does a better job focusing on people than on websites and the exchange of contraband for bitcoin. There are only so many screenshots, and so many US Post delivery trucks that you can film that would get the point across. Ulbricht seems to come across as a bit of a self-absorbed dick, but you kind of expect that from someone who thinks he can dance between the raindrops of the internet underworld without getting wet. We are never allowed to see deeper into Ulbricht than that; we don’t seem to be allowed to see much insight into his relationship with Julia Vie to feel any tension or for that matter much depth of emotion for either party after their relationship falls apart. But when she told him to leave, you got the feeling he had it coming for some time.
The entire movie seems to be similarly lacking in depth. Officer Rick Bowden, a creation of the movie writers to create a tension between old-school and new, begins to get caught up investigating the massive narcotics trafficking scheme that is Silk Road. He is portrayed as a narcotics officer out of rehab who had been reassigned to cybercrime.
While the movie was factual, Bowden was intended to be an amalgamation of two or more officers, who ended up with 6 years in jail for their dealings on Silk Road. Ulricht himself was given a life imprisonment without parole, which bears out in news accounts.
The movie made few attempts to make a case why I should care about Ulricht, the mastermind behind Silk Road – beyond Ulricht’s wide-eyed youthful naivete; few attempts to give us reason to care about officer Rick’s street smarts or to give us any sense that any of the characters had any appreciation of him by the end. That fell flat too. In fact, we are mostly only allowed to see his more buffoonish side as a cop, leaving us to think that his abilities as a Narc were no better than his abilities as an internet sleuth. Also, there was not enough depth given to the Dark Web or Tor browsers or encryption technology or Bitcoin, to give the film any “Geek cred”, so it fell flat there also. It is a wishy-washy film that appears to alienate every demographic equally.
Silk Road is never outright tasteless; and the story is not too hard to follow. You are guaranteed to never be at the edge of your seat for any reason. If you want an afternoon or evening of feeling comfortably numb with a fairly easy-to-follow story, you’ve come to the right place. If you were looking for a thrilling movie that would make you think about the complex issues of cybercrime, or that would challenge Ulbricht’s twisted libertarian beliefs that ultimately put him behind bars … this isn’t it. I would give it two stars out of five.
The 1942 film Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman had it all: shady deals and intrigue in the middle of World War II, a love triangle, and great writing and acting. The title of this blog reflects the fact that this film, among the greatest of all time by many accounts, is the source of cliches and taglines that are so well-known to us, that many of us 79 years later don’t realize that the source of those phrases came from this movie, often delivered by Bogart, playing the part of Rick Blaine, a self-described saloon-owner in Casablanca, in what used to be French Morcco on the north coast of Africa.
Of course, there was Bogart’s trenchocat and fedora, a look so imitated over the decades that it has become a visual cliche, which he wore during certain scenes. There are also the lines of which I was able to identify five:
“Play it, Sam!”, a line delivered by Bergman (who plays Ilsa Lund) and later, separately by Bogart, asking a saloon piano player named Sam to play a tune that reminded them of Rick and Ilsa’s old romance. In popular culture, this line appears to have morphed into “Play it again, Sam!”
“Here’s looking at you, kid”, an affectionate phrase said several times by Rick to Ilsa during the film. I counted four times, but I may have missed some.
“I am shocked, shocked!” when Captain Louis Renault “finds” to his “shock” that gambling was happening at Rick’s saloon, after he himself had gambled there and pocketed his winnings. This has since become the catchphrase of any hypocrite who has benefitted from some kind of shenanigans, and then afterward trying to express revulsion of the very idea of the act when others are doing the same thing.
“Round up the usual suspects!”, a line said by officer Renault on the last scene at the airport after he made a deal with Rick.
“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”, a line delivered by Rick to officer Renault at the end of the movie.
If staying indoors due to covid depresses you, Canadian author Danielle Laporte challenges us to believe in the power of love and further challenges us to view life as beautiful and full of possibility.
Right now …
… there are Tibetan Buddhist monks in a temple in the Himalayas endlessly reciting mantras for the cessation of your suffering and for the flourishing of your happiness.
Someone you haven’t met yet is already dreaming of adoring you.
Someone is writing a book that you will read in the next two years that will change how you look at life.
Nuns in the Alps are in endless vigil, praying for the Holy Spirit to alight the hearts of all of God’s children.
A farmer is looking at his organic crops and whispering, “nourish them.”
Someone wants to kiss you, to hold you, to make tea for you.
Someone is willing to lend you money, wants to know what your favorite food is, and treat you to a movie.
Someone in your orbit has something immensely valuable to give you — for free.
Something is being invented this year that will change how your generation lives, communicates, heals and passes on.
The next great song is being rehearsed.
Thousands of people are in yoga classes right now intentionally sending light out from their heart chakras and wrapping it around the earth.
Millions of children are assuming that everything is amazing and will always be that way.
Someone is in profound pain, and a few months from now, they’ll be thriving like never before. From where they are, they just can’t see it .
Someone who is craving to be partnered, to be acknowledged, to arrive, will get precisely what they want — and even more. And because that gift will be so fantastical in it’s reach and sweetness, it will quite magically alter their memory of angsty longing and render it all “So worth the wait.”
Someone has recently cracked open their joyous, genuine nature because they did the hard work of hauling years of oppression off of their psyche — this luminous juju is floating in the ether, and is accessible to you.
Someone just this second wished for world peace, in earnest.
Some civil servant is making sure that you get your mail, and your garbage is picked up, that the trains are running on time, and that you are generally safe.
Someone is dedicating their days to protecting your civil liberties and clean drinking water.
Someone is regaining their sanity.
Someone is coming back from the dead.
Someone is genuinely forgiving the seemingly unforgivable.
The latest Supreme Court unsigned court order regarding “stopping the steal” was in late yesterday. While this was a very short judgement on a case involving seventeen republican states (as plaintiffs) spearheaded by the Texas attorney-general, it is a veritable War And Peace novel compared with Tuesday’s one-sentence judgement against Mike Kelly’s challenge to the Pennsylvania vote. I think both rulings could have been further shortened to “WTF”. The rulings do come as a gift to ADD sufferers and to the general public.
I have always been on two minds about whether this is worthy of reporting in the major media. Is it the responsibility of reporters and news agencies to highlight every kooky development of these tinfoil-hat wearing nutbars, which accomplished nothing except wasting taxpayer’s money and the court’s time? This is to say nothing about addressing a pandemic where the very states these attorneys general represent see their citizens dying in record numbers.
Sometimes being dismissive is an appropriate reaction, as the Republicans and their propagandists (like Facebook, Twitter and Fox News) have given the rest of the world much to dismiss. They wouldn’t adhere to such potty ideas if they were not rewarded with so much attention from the major media.
The same goes for the protestors. Protestors have a right to protest, even it it’s based on a crazy theory such as the Democrats stealing the election. But the major media don’t have to report it. There are plenty of protests based on nutty ideas, and none of them get reported.
If someone wants to believe that the Democrats are part of a “satanic sex-trafficking ring which practices cannibalism”, I say let them. If news media no longer thinks it’s newsworthy, it will all die down at the grassroots level. After the number of proponents of these conspiracy theories decline, they will instead just annoy their friends and relatives as before.
Other, greater people have done great things in quarantine way before you were born. I already knew that the late Sir Isaac Newton discovered things like optics, gravity, and the rules for Calculus. But what I didn’t know is that in the two years he did so, he was in his early 20’s, and England suffered an epidemic of The Bubonic Plague, known as The Great Plague, in the years 1665-1666, long before infectious disease were known and understood.
Prior to that he was thought of as an unremarkable undergraduate student, according to Wikipedia. But given two years cooped up where he lived and avoiding the Plague gave him time alone to come up with his brilliant theories on classical mechanics, using calculus to explain it mathematically.
I have fairly strong opinions about movies, and watch them only seldom. I call this review “post-mortem” because this review is occuring 3 years after any discussion about it is topical, and most people have stated their opinion about it. I also don’t review movies much, but this one gave me the need to voice some strong opinions about it.
I did not see the first Guardians movie, so my opinions regard the movie upon its own merit. The movie was cringeworthy with very lazy writing. Punchlines that have been pulled from every sitcom I remember seeing; scenes devolving into a group therapy session without any real character development beforehand that would give much of this context outside of the constantly snarky remarks the “Guardians” make about each other throughout the movie. The sarcasm the characters hurl at each other and the “breakthroughs” they have ask the audience to apparently accept this as character depth. It just results in being cringeworthy. I think this would have been a better movie if the Guardians just learned how to shut up and fight crime — or aliens — or whatever it is they are fighting.
Also, maybe it’s because I missed the first part, but I don’t see any other purpose to using seventies’ music throughout the film than to ingratiate the audience to its substandard plot. As a really good fan of seventies music (much of the music they use are actually in my record collection), I found its use here nakedly manipulative, and not really appropriate for an outer space film. No matter how it is justified, hearing Fleetwood Mac in the middle of a space scene is too jarring to be convincing. Or hearing a godlike character named Ego, a planet creator, explain in detail the lyrics to “Brandy You’re a Fine Girl” to his son — lyrics, by the way, that need very little explanation. I think the audience gets it.
What I was looking for, I suppose, was an escape into a movie. Just get absorbed in it. But hearing the music on offer, hearing the constant and often annoying banter, just kept reminding me that this movie is all fake, and don’t get too lost in their world. A movie’s “job”, especially one that is based on fantasy, is to sell me on their world, entice me to accept their world so I too can travel with them in my imagination. Instead, it veers between devolving into a sitcom with tired and overused punch lines, and devolving into a group therapy session, with the most unconvincing breakthroughs in the history of therapeutic breakthroughs. The villains are just “kind of there”, with no character development or even story development on that side either.
There was another thing about this movie that got me as well. Because the writing was so flat and the punchlines so worn, it would likely appeal to a younger audience who may think the punchlines are new to them. Like kids under 15. Certainly, they would be blown away by the high action and visual effects. But there is a problem. There are a lot of sexual jokes in the film where I could see parents having problems with. So, it may not work for them either.
So, anything good about it, apart from the lazy writing, and music that you can find blaring in any shopping mall, flat characters and flat villans, you ask? I think people have considered it successful due to the visual effects, the cameo of Sylvester Stallone, and oh yeah, they think Baby Groot looks cute. Most reviews of this movie were positive, but when I found a negative review, they seemed to find similar issues. There are others who say it’s “not as good as the first movie”, but I wish to avoid comparison to sequels. I am refusing to fall into the trap of desiring to purchase the first DVD in the series to “appreciate” the second one. That spells “ripoff” to me. Movies should stand on their own.
Guardians 3 is scheduled to be released next year. I don’t think I will be going anywhere near it.
Yes, there are so many book titles for people on the internet and social media that it has its own entry, separate from the plain “self-help” category.
Trolling is part of “The Big Book of Online” series, of which this entry has various selections. Trolls are defined as persons or bots who post messages which is designed to inflame and incite to online chat groups, be it Twitter, Facebook, 4Chan, Reddit, or any other online chatroom.
I will give you one bit of advice that will save you from having to read this book: Don’t feed the trolls!
Trolls are looking for an audience and prey on anyone with weaknesses and insecurities. They also crave attention to themselves. Don’t give them that attention. Don’t respond to or even refer to their messages. If your chatroom doesn’t have a way to hide messages that you find disturbing, find another chatroom that does. If others are piling on to give reactions the trolls probably deserve, ignore them also, and find non-toxic online places to have the discussions you were hoping to have.
Because if you do, the troll could just dismiss you and other responders as Haters. The idea is to keep everyone upset and attentive to the troll and their ignorant remarks.
The troll then acts as if he or she is entirely unable to allow him or herself to be confused by facts or reason. This might be an act, or this might actually be the case. Either way, the participants slowly realize their time has been wasted and they move on.
That is, until another time when the same troll posts in the same discussion group about something else they know will upset other people. Other kinds of trolls are featured in the following books:
Honey Bunch is a children’s book written to tell a cautionary tale about a little girl who finds her favourite song online and decides to download it. But really, the book is just another annoying extension of the “children are digital natives” trope that contains the myth that small children understand the complexities of what could be going on, on the other end of the internet connection. No. What they understand is: “I like this song and I know I can click on this link to get it.” There are many reasons to not click on that link, which go beyond “the law”. It is possible that she could be downloading a Trojan, or that she is on a website where each keystroke she makes is being logged in a phishing expedition on the part of the website. A small child doesn’t understand the forces at work that causes such corrupt websites to exist, simply because small children do not understand that there are people in the world that can be evil and hurtful; and that small children provide just that infinite amount of trust in the adult world that online predators crave. And I wasn’t even talking about sexual predators. They are open and accepting of what the online world is, but that is why I would say they should not be exposed to the internet until they are past a certain age.
Small children, contrary to online marketing bullshit, do not understand the online world, primarily because they are too naive to understand the world in its real form either. They are just curious little monkeys who click on stuff to see what happens. And they have more spare time than you to do it with. And yes, along the way, they click on stuff that isn’t a web browser, and now they know how to send an email containing daddy’s browsing history to every email address in daddy’s entire address book through Microsoft Office’s Mail Merge, because of what they saw on a YouTube video they randomly clicked on. The irony is that you were trying for weeks to do this with a business letter you were going to send out to a few dozen recipients as part of your job, and couldn’t figure it out. Great job, Honey Bunch!
The Man Who Walked Away From Facebook appears to be a story about a cowboy with a Facebook account. It is another cautionary tale about not letting online distractions keep your attention away from your horse. I think.
Apparently, this website has turned making fake book covers into something of a cottage industry. This is a bit of a trend, following the fake book titles meme. I think the art is in the ingenuity of the ‘shop job. Changing letters behind the cracks and dog-ears in the book cover is an art form I have respect for.
The Connor Brothers have offered a fake title that is not really that far removed from the original title.
It is basically the kind of modern translation you kind of wished you found in the Coles’ “Everyday English” Shakespeare series. That would have had me even more hooked on literature back in university.
There are certain scenes in this play (the real one, by William Shakespeare) where profanity would have worked, such as when characters about to marry are dancing with each other while hiding their identities by wearing masks. While dancing they begin to talk smack about other people, but actually have no idea they are talking smack about each other, and hearing about themselves in the third person, unknowingly spoken to them directly. Comedy gold.
You’ve Won a Free Timeshare Vacation, for years, has been the quintessential telemarketing con. Darryl Dawkins, former NBA star, dabbled in pulp fiction after his carrer as a basketball icon, offering this book, published by Fuxley Books.
This is the drama of a couple in Ajax receiving a phonecall from a telemarketer about winning a raffle to win their own timeshare in The Bahamas. It sounded absolutely unbelievable.
This novel is the prequel to the next novel, Timeshare Exit, where the same protagonists get another telemarketer phonecall offering to get out of their timeshare for a “small upfront fee” of $11,000.
Women have their way of knowing how she measures up in her marriage, such as seeing how she competes with a game on TV. From the point of view of the husband, it’s lousy timing. From the wife’s point of view, it is perfect timing.
Since the publication of this book, she might have to compete with The Playboy Channel, or something similar. Her only advantage in that case, is to remind her husband that he can’t marry the Playboy Channel.
The Most Glorious Bowel Movement, is a pulp fiction page turner if there ever was one. Goliath Dumper’s artistic challenge here is to get his character to describe the bowel movement in a way that would hold the reader’s attention for 198 pages. We get the story from the wife’s point of view. What she was doing before, during and after; what it felt like before and after in intricate detail that illustrates the slow start, the buildup and the climax.
Spanky McFarland has embarked on writing a Fanfiction novel based on Dumper’s obvious million-selling pulp classic. These are the in fact the four words you don’t want to hear from an attractive woman if you were ever “in the mood” at the time.
I didn’t want this post to deteriorate into “potty humor” but I had these two in stock, and thought they should go together.
Now, where were we …? Oh yeah, this was supposed to be a post of “everyday dramas” in fake book titles.
Oh, for Fuck’s Sake, What Have You Done Now? could also have been called “Smooth Moves” but illustrate the hell of children dealing with a collapsing treehouse.
You have to read the book to know why the tree was made to collapse. Shoddy workmanship? Too many people sitting on one side? Using too much hay on the roof and walls? Why is the little girl licking her hand as she is crawling away from the disaster? What was the guy in the background doing that caused him to helplessly fall out and faceplant himself on the ground? Will he ever get up?
Handicapped Parking Posse is the story about a librarian named Annie who really takes handicapped parking enforcement to heart.
If an able-bodied patron so much as thought of parking in the handicapped parking spot, then a pissed-off librarian and her Second Amendment rights would be there to greet them with a loaded .22 calibre rifle. All the patron would have to do is look down where he is standing, at the blood stains on the pavement from previous patrons who thought she was neither serious, nor a good shooter. But Annie is not a bloodthirsty killer. She doesn’t shoot to kill. She just shoots to disable. Once shot, you were allowed to take the disabled parking spot and drag your bloodied body into the library and make yourself comfortable. Sit on one of their bloodstained chairs; borrow a bloodstained book; or just ask Annie to phone you an ambulance.
Boredpanda.com discusses a bunch of actual fake covers you can use to cover your boring copy of Plato’s Republic or Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Many of these titles are in the self-help genre, and are sure to attract attention.
For example, why publically show your preference for Tess of the D’ubervilles, or War and Peace, when you can show off your interest in Hiding Your Erection from God? Covers like these have been shown to give you much more room on that rush hour subway ride, according to studies.
Boredpanda.com also had many titles below, that are too long, and don’t appear to satirize any existing covers. Some examples are below:
The self-help genre is a deep well, with titles that speak deeply about human angst and ennui. Harrowing tales! Horror! Suspicion! And who can resist a book describing in scientific detail a video about a puppy with the hiccups (the video in this link has 18 million views, but this one is closer to 7 minutes)?
And in case you need to know How to be Incompetent from the experts, here is a easy to read book with a very familiar British Prime Minister on the cover for those needing a mentor by which they can model their incompetent behaviour.
You get to learn the meaning of big words like anosognosia. While that word has medical connotations, the generally incompetent can interpret it in the sense of “not knowing that you don’t know”. That is, you are actually incompetent, yet not aware that you are incompetent. This is not to be confused with denial. Oh no, my dear reader! This is just incompetence raised to a new dimension: you are too incompetent to know that you are incompetent. It would be as if Boris Johnson styled his own hair, and was so impressed with the results that he opened a salon, charging top dollar.
Of course, we don’t want to give Donald Trump short shrift here, so we have two books which are the most likely titles to not have been ghostwritten by someone else with his name on the cover. And because they are likely to have been written by Trump, both books are 50 pages, tops! Free copies will distributed in the Trump hotel rooms alongside the Gideons’ Bible.
These are parodies of covers of classic titles put out by Penguin Books. In a sudden fit of “FTFY“, I see its category is “Mystery and Crime”. But really, I’ve Seen the Future: I Can’t Afford It should be “self-help”, as we all like to know how to cope.
But also another possibility is that it is part of a futuristic dystopia, which makes it, maybe science fiction or fantasy. But I do prefer to think of this as self-help. What are the choices we have as a species going into a future we can’t afford? The scary part is that it may involve sharing resources, rent, food and generally getting along together. It potentially could be a subversive book in today’s neocon climate.
The Weirdo Always Sits Next To Me is a classic problem plaguing certain passengers using public transit. Now, I know about all of the talk that we can all be a little, shall we say, “different”, and some of us dye our hair strange colors, wear strange clothes, makeup and tattoos. Maybe some of us have strange piercings or whatnot. But that is a normal weird. All that is is “different”, really.
What I have in mind is more of the kind of weirdo that comes on the bus, pays his fare, and on his head is a paper hat which has printed on it what he feels to be “The Seven Commandments“. He wears a shirt made of newspaper whose characters are in Hebrew, and clutches in both hands inkjet-printed and hand-folded pamphlets describing the end of the world. And he thinks to himself, ‘you seem like a nice person to sit next to’, and he does, uninvited. His smell is a mixture of schnapps and body odour, and you can’t figure out if there is something crawling under his beard. You begin to itch. You try to stare out the window. It will be a long bus ride. And it happens the next day and the next.
And this makes the book the basis for self-help. You begin to wonder what the hell is it about you that attracts weirdos on the bus? What signals do you give off that make you a choice for weirdos to sit next to? Is the character in this anecdote the only one that attracts weirdos? What scientific studies discussing what proportion of the population attract weirdos on public transit? Are certain personality types more likely to attract weirdos on the bus than others? Should you seek help? Is there a remedy? Are weirdos contagious? So many questions.
The last title in this article is what we all feel. Let’s face it. Youth, with all of its brash confidence, bravado, and disrespect for authority, is wasted on the young, since it lacks worldly wisdom. A title such as this one really sums up what any self-help book ever written has ever been about. And that is, when you combine your wisdom with confidence, you become a tour de force. But the perennial problem has nearly always been that we usually have way more of one than the other. It is one of the paradoxes of a life lived: You can only gain wisdom by making mistakes and learning from them — that is, you gain wisdom by having previously failed at something. But failing at something saps confidence and your motivation decreases. To regain our confidence and motivation is a purely psychological effort, and a difficult one for us as we get older. The humbling feeling we get by making mistakes should not be mistaken for a “reason” to lose confidence in ourselves, since no reason exists or can exist. There is only learning, and with learning there can only be future success, but that means we need to keep trying. This particular book doesn’t exist, but if it did, I just saved you the trouble of having to buy it. You’re welcome.
By now you may have read the first installment of Fake Book Titles, and the rationale for this simple concept. Show fake book title, write highly plausible nonsense about it.
Toaster Oven Inferno is the kind of drama that should be written into a book. It begins with optimism, a promise of convenience, all ruined by a single burrito. And out of the flames runs a housewife wearing tattered garments as if she had barely escaped a grizzly bear attack, barely surviving the inferno, not knowing where the kids are, and wondering what his husband would say when he came home from work.
No information on the originator of this graphic.
Mummy’s Breaking Point is not a property of mothers, but of parents generally. Here a bunch of small kids decide to form an indie marching band. The book proves that insanity is hereditary: you get it from your children.
It was reported that they had to take mummy away that week, leaving Dad to do the housework and tend to 7 little terrors who appear to have boundless energy and below average music skills.
Wait for the sequel, Daddy’s Breaking Point, starring Daddy as a new mental hospital inmate, sharing a room with co-star Mommy. Supporting cast include the Children’s Aid Society.
This is Sam. Sam he is. The title of this book should be considered to be a natural reaction to being served green eggs and ham.
Either of You Boys Want a Coke? I don’t recognize the series this book originates from; it isn’t Hardy Boys, but it is kind of like Hardy Boys in that there are two teen-age dudes that are depicted on the cover.
Apparently, they don’t mind being tied up in the basement and only feel thirsty.
This next tome has a cover depicting a space mission, but not any actual one, since the space capsule appears to contain only one astronaut.
So, some kid who always dreamed of space travel steals the keys to a rocketship, and after entering space and the third stage of the rocket disappears into zero gravity, he now contemplates the consequences of his actions. What now? His boy scout magnetic compass is no good to him anymore as he sees the beach ball of Earth shrink away from him to the size of a quarter. He doesn’t know how to control the oxygen or navigate the ship, and it is getting harder to breathe. It dawns on him that space travel is more complicated than he remembered seeing it on TV. He never thought he would actually look forward to being grounded when he gets back home.